In Maolagi, in the Paniai District, between Wamena and Nabire, there are employees of a relief organization who completely depend on our helicopter and an MAF fixed-wing airplane. Usually, we fly by helicopter from Wamena directly to the nearest landing strip in Bugalaga. An MAF airplane flies the goods there from the nearest city, because it can carry much heavier loads than the helicopter. The helicopter, on the other hand, is more suited for flying the goods to the villages in short rotations (7 minutes).
Because transportation of passengers has been forbidden for several months in Papua due to the Corona pandemic, the NGO staff in Maolagi were forced to stay in the village longer than they expected. Is that a problem? You have to take into account that there are no possibilities of buying food and other everyday household items. You suddenly realize that the toilet paper, rice, yeast for baking bread, or toothpaste and other things are running out. In addition to the challenges of living in a village like this, a whole lot of additional challenges suddenly arise.
I am always conscious of the fact that I am very privileged to live in a place where I don’t have to consider if, for example, our food will last, etc. For the NGOs in the bush, however, those are issues they face daily. I am personally very impressed by the willingness of these people to give up so much and live totally isolated. They often pay a much higher price than we can imagine.
Although we have a much easier life in Wamena, it is wonderful to be part of this work. Time and again we experience very rewarding moments, for example when we land in a village and are warmly welcomed because we have flown in toilet paper or other eagerly awaited items. Suddenly you are very glad about such “small” things.
Your pilot, Micha